History interprets the law as at times the

History and Development of the Common Law


We live in a society of systemization and prosperity and the
importance of upholding such values is necessary to maintain the peace of the
ecosystem. The law is an important conduct in such a society as it serves as a
norm of conduct for its people. A society without law can be catastrophic as
the law protects the weak and supports the life of its citizens. Law protects
human rights, provides safety and justice and punishes the accused. In order to
do so, a federal court plays a vital role in providing its public with the law.

The court has some basic functions. It settles disputes and
provides justice to its people. There are specialized officials called lawyers
and judges who use the norms of the law to settle disputes and conflicts. The
court also interprets the law as at times the legislators (people who write the
law) are not very careful while writing the law and hence, the court intervenes
and corrects the legislature.

The federal court system also has certain characteristics. For
instance, The court system is separate from all the other branches of the
government and works independent of the other systems of government. One of the
main advantages of working separately is the prevention of corruption amongst
officials and the possibility of conflict of interest among the officials of
the law. The court system is hierarchical and the position of the court in the
structure determines its power and authority over the society. The supreme
court holds the maximum power followed by high court and then the lower courts.

Common Law

William Blackstone, the first scholar who tried to bring together
all of the common law of England defined common law as the records of our
several courts of Justice in books of reports and judicial decisions in
treatises and of learning sages of the profession prescribed and handed down to
us from the times of ancient antiquity. They are the laws which gave rise and
origin to that collection of axioms and customs which is now known as ‘The
Common Law’.

The Common Law consists of the past decisions of court that
influence the present and the future legal decisions made by the officials of
the court. The key idea to common law is that a former court decision sets a
precedent that controls future courts. For instance, if one court makes a
decision then all the other courts have to apply that decision whether they
like it or not. Such collection of judges’ decisions is what we now know as the
common law.

Doctrine of

The Common Law is a legal system developed by judges followed and
based on other judges’ decisions who have solved similar cases in the past. The
judges follow the legal principles and reasoning of the previous similar cases
to make decisions in the future. This is known as the doctrine of precedent
which is followed in the legislation of the Common Law.

All the decisions ever made in the court by the judges are recorded
in reports known as the yearbooks. Such judicial decisions which have already
been made in cases in the past are documented and collected in the yearbooks.
These yearbooks are collections of the law reports which create precedents and
those precedents are applied to new cases by present judges in the court.


Common Law is a legal system and tradition originating from
England. It was known to provide laws to the land. It was essentially created
and applied by judges in court to settle disputes and solve criminal cases.
This system comprises of legal principles articulated by judges on certain
individual cases in the court. Hence, it is also known as ‘Case Law’ as it
emanates from individual cases.


Common Law was established and introduced by William the Conqueror
in 1066 AD. Prior to his invasion there was no particular law. There was a
complex of local laws based on the previous invasions made by the kings. For
instance, Dane Law influenced the local law of the North side of England and
Wessex Law influenced the west and the southwest of England. These functioning
system of law and the local justice was varying in counties which were known as

William was the first king who had the idea and vision of
attempting to provide a unified legal system throughout England and Wales. He
was interested in establishing his power and order on the entire kingdom. He
understood that in order to gain authority over the citizens of England, he
needs a central jurisdiction system of law and justice with which he as the
ruler had the power and the law to be obeyed by the people. He created the
King’s court where citizens would show up with their grievances and disputes
and the King himself with his trusted advisors would serve justice. The King’s
court was both a court for law and a royal household where the King with his
most trusted and lawful advisors would sit on a bench and resolve disputes and
practice civil and criminal law.

At that time England’s population was very less and the literacy
rate was also low. Also travelling around the country was an issue as there
were no proper roads to travel around the country. To resolve this issue of
immobility, the King with his advisors and the court would travel to different
towns of England and the people would bring their accusations and complaints to
the King and justice was served. This helped the citizens in enjoying benefits
of the court of law and the king was able to hold his authority and power over
the entire country. This whole system of William the Conqueror was the very
beginning of the common law system. A centralized and unified system of law
with its consistent approach to the King and his advisors.

The King’s court also helped in determining the value of the
estates around the country. A team of 12 lawful and sincere freemen was called
and were told to value the estate. They would testify under oath and the value
of estates was established. This assembly of freemen was called the Jury. Eventually,
the Jury became responsible for documenting both civil and criminal law.

Downfall and Reign
of Stephen

After the end of the rule of William, many other rules obtained
power and things started to go downhill. Due to collision between the rulers on
the run for power and authority over England there was disruption and a lot of
fighting began. Things went into a war chaos and the court of law was
completely obstructed. One of the main reasons of this catastrophe was Stephen
who used to fight with almost everybody else. The times were so bad that the
people of Faith believed that the Gods and his angles were asleep at that time.



Re-installment and
the Development of the Common Law

After the chaos and the reign of Stephen, Henry II gained power of
the throne of England. He was one of the Angevine kings like William the
Conqueror and had the same ideology. He wanted to regain stability of the law
and order and reform the law of the lands as thievery of lands was increased at
an alarming rate due to the reign and chaos of the war. He had to face many
challenges and deal with rampant crime as he gained power after a lot of
turbulence and disruption of order.

Henry II played a very significant role in the development of
Common Law. He, like William focused on creating a centralized legal system of
Law and Justice for the country that would be under his authority. He also
brought certain changes in the chain of commands. The judges were ordered to
travel around the country to uphold the common law. At that time, there were 18
judges under the king and 5 of them were told to stay in London and the rest of
them were told to travel around the country and settle disputes. The judges who
stayed in London sat in the Westminster Hall and practiced Law. The judges who
travelled were applying the laws of Westminster Hall. Eventually, the local
laws were taken over by the new national laws that were common to all the
citizens of the entire country and thus the name of ‘Common Law’ was

The travelling judges formed a nucleus of judges with national
jurisdiction so that there were no local roots in the location they were
travelling and hence, preventing corruption and bias in their order. This was a
very good way of establishing a unified legal system which was also free from

Further development
and spread of the Law

The earliest reports recorded known as the yearbooks exist from the
13th century. The yearbooks comprised of principle sources and
materials for the development of legal doctrines, concepts and methods. With
the power of common law spreading across the country, the local laws started to
fade away and there was establishment of royal courts around the popular towns
of the country. The content of the law was largely directed to prevent war
chaos and bloodshed by recognizing personal freedom, rights to property and
punishing people who committed violence. This legal system was highly reliable
and powerful enough to last until 1971 from 13th century.

This process and success of the common law gradually spread from
England to other countries around the world. In the present, powerful nations
like USA, Canada, Australia, India and other nations from Africa also follow
the Common legal system. Though Indian legal system is mixed yet it comprises
elements of the Common Law. With time, this legal system has also supported
social harmony and economic activity. The Common Law encouraged citizens to use
the court of law and not take law into their own hands. Citizens throughout the
nation with disputes were encouraged to come and sort out their problems in
public forum and were offered a remedy to be made on right or wrong. The Law
believed in non-violence and were supporting social order and tranquility of
the country.


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